Google Plus For Wellness Businesses: Like It – Or Ignore It?

What is it?

Google Plus – “Google+” – is Google’s answer to Facebook.

Should you care?

Right now, most health clubs, yoga studios, and wellness centers should take only one step – configuring your Google+ Business page. That way, you don’t have to worry that someone else will grab the business name you want first.

Once you’ve done this – you can forget about Google+ for now.

Why?

First, tools like this only become effective when they reach critical mass – literally hundreds of millions of users. Google+ has about 7 million weekly users right now – but about half of the users who visited when Google Plus first launched haven’t returned. In fact, since its launch, weekly usage has been up about half the time – and down about half the time. That’s not overwhelmingly strong momentum.

Compare that to Facebook’s 800 million members. That’s “critical mass”!

Savvy marketers know that even Facebook rarely pays off for businesses, despite the hype. Now, ask yourself how important Google+, at a fraction of Facebook’s size, is really likely to be for your health and wellness business in the short-term.

Second, there’s no advantage for small and medium businesses to be early adopters. Getting in early just means you put in the work – without the reward, because Google+ just doesn’t have zillions of participants so far.

Third, it’s just not clear yet whether G+ is going to matter – or even be around in a year or two.

Google has a history of unleashing ideas on the public and then killing the ones that never really take off – like Google Health, a free, portable electronic health record tool. If Google+ doesn’t quickly build momentum, it could easily be retired within 12 – 24 months.

We’re fairly optimistic that Google+ will stick around – but the odds are good that it may look and function very different a year from now. Why spend your team’s limited time being an unpaid guinea pig for little near-term benefit?

To configure your business page:

1) Go to https://plus.google.com/pages/create. Create a business page here (separate from your personal page).

2) Choose the appropriate category – “local business” for most of you – and complete your business profile.

3) Add links to your other social profiles – LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube.

Select Add a Custom Link, under Profile/Recommended Links (righthand side of page).

When you do this, make sure you’re editing your business profile, not your personal profile.

You’ve now done all you need to do and can safely log out and ignore Google+ for the foreseeable future.

What else can we do with Google+?

These steps are optional – only for those who like to play with new technology. They’re not likely to produce dramatic business results anytime soon.

1) Configure your “Circles”

Circles are groups of people that you define. They control how you see incoming information and how you share outgoing information. You might create one Circle of people who are sharing their weight loss experiences, and a different Circle of people planning your high school reunion.

2) Add content to the Stream

The Stream is where you post messages, photos, video and location information. You decide which circles you want to share it with. For example, you might share swaps and substitutions exclusively with people in your weight loss Circle.

3) Check out Sparks – it shows what content’s trending on the web.

4) Thnk about creative ways to use Hangouts – live Q&A or panel discussion, for example.

5) Add the +1 badge to your blog or webpage (similar to Facebook “Like” button)

6) Start adding contacts to Circles and encourage your members and clients to click “Add to circles” on your Google+ Business page.

7) Post photos and videos that are truly relevant to your business and customers

8) Set up a product page (in addition to your Business page)

For example, you might set up a product page for your Healthy Holidays bootcamp.

9) Create a Google+ badge at the badgemaker page

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Leslie Nolen, Radial's president, is the nationally-known expert on the art and science of selling health and wellness.

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